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Tuck een yuh belly!

Monday, January 28, 2013    

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I'VE received a lot of emails from women about staying in shape and how to get their abs to be "sexy" or flat. Obviously it takes time, commitment and dedication to working out/eating properly. It can't happen overnight, but you can speed up the process.

Here are some quick tips on how to get a flat stomach in a short space of time. Not all of them involve exercise, but combining these tips will help you to not have to "tuck een yuh belly" every time you leave the house.

What you eat

If you aren't working out four to five hours a day or burning a ridiculous amount of calories, then you have to be sure that what you eat helps to boost your metabolism. We all end up feeling that weird 'I need something to eat' feeling between 2:00-4:00 pm. That is your body talking to you. Now how do you turn that craving into a bonus?

*Between 3:00-4:00pm, give your body protein. Almonds or mixed nuts, a protein bar, cottage cheese and fruit or pumpkin seeds are great. Also, a hard boiled egg is a great source of protein and easy to prepare and take with you. This will boost your metabolism and stabilise your blood sugar.

You may wonder what that has to do with a flat belly, but the lower you keep your blood sugar, the lower your insulin levels. Insulin is the terrorist that keeps the fat hostage in your belly.

*Reduce your sugar intake — soft drinks, pastries, condensed milk in your tea or coffee and, yes, alcohol. Get rid of them from your diet or significantly lower your intake. Again, we are back to that terrorist insulin and if you keep your insulin levels low then you will be well on your way to having a flatter belly. Once you allow high levels of sugar in your body, then insulin will begin to convert them to fat and store them.

*Cut and eat. We have all been guilty of this or have seen this happen before our eyes: an entire plate of food gone in 30 seconds or less. Chew your food properly, it is very important in how it's digested. Also, those big plates of food need to be cut into smaller portions. Eat smaller portions of food throughout the day versus big meals once or twice a day.

*Water is life. The more you drink, the better off you are. It helps to flush toxins out of your vital organs while carrying nutrients to your cells. You don't want to exercise and end up dehydrated, you will be drained and tired. You can't go wrong with the 8/8 rule: a minimum of eight 8oz glasses a day. Also know that room temperature water is more easily absorbed when working out compared to cold water.

Cardio/aerobics

Yes, no one really loves this, including me, but it's very important in achieving that toned stomach that you want.

Try adding something fun that will also work on and strengthen your core, like kickboxing, and if you add some small weights (one-two lbs) you'll be surprised at the results. Throw punches with the weights and you'll start knocking those pounds out.

*Get out and walk. Not everyone wants to run up the side of a hill or do sprints around a track but you have to start somewhere and there's no place better than walking. Get your metabolism up and start melting that fat off. It makes no sense to start doing all these abs if you have fat that needs to come off. You'll just end up looking bigger as you add muscle to the fat. Start with at least 20-30 minutes of brisk walking and build up as you grow fitter.

*Grab a medicine ball. These are great to add to your workout and let you not only do abs, but also arms, chest, legs and glutes exercises in your home. Medicine balls range in weight -- start out with a lighter ball, you don't want a ball that is too heavy and end up hurting yourself. Build your strength then increase the weight of the ball you are using. However, make sure there is some resistance or slowing in your motion versus you having no weight in your hands at all.

Here are six great ab workouts you can do at home, three using a medicine ball and three regular ab exercises. Do three sets of each. The length of time for each exercise is listed. Remember, if you cheat, you're only cheating yourself.

Medicine ball abs

Straight leg sit-ups: The medicine ball will help take your regular sit ups to a new level. Lie flat on your back with a medicine ball in both hands. Extend the arms straight so the ball is directly above the hips. While keeping the legs together, raise them directly over the hips to the ceiling (so the body forms a giant L).

With control, return to the start position and do about 12-15 repetitions. You can use the couch to keep your feet stable or if you have a workout partner, they can hold your feet steady.

Crunches: Begin by lying flat on your back with your knees bent. Then raise your shoulders slightly off the floor so you are not lying totally flat. Take the ball and hold it with both hands against your chest. Now perform a regular crunch sit-up and use your abdominals to hold your body in the forward position for one to two seconds. To complete one repetition, return to the initial starting position. Do 12-15 repetitions.

Toe touches: This will bring new meaning to touching your toes. Lie on the floor, holding the medicine ball in both hands. Extend the arms overhead, with shoulders back and down to the mat. While keeping the legs together, raise them directly over the hips to the ceiling (so the body forms a giant L). Next, bring the ball overhead (keep the neck in a neutral position throughout), and reach it as close to the toes as possible. Crunch the upper body to the toes for 12-15 repetitions.

Regular abs (three sets):

Abdominal hold: Grab a sturdy chair. Sit tall on the edge of the chair and place your hands on the edge with your fingers pointing toward your knees. Tighten your abs and bring your toes two to four inches off the floor. Lift your rear end off the chair. Hold this position for as long as you can — aim for five to 10 seconds. Lower yourself and repeat. Continue this exercise for one minute.

Plank it: This is simple and easy to do at home and gives great results. Get into a full push-up position with your palms on the floor under your shoulders. Hold it here for 30 seconds, with your abs contracted and your arms and legs extended and your head aligned with your spine. As you get stronger, hold this position longer, up to one minute.

Get to climbing: Grab a scarf or a towel. Start by lying on the floor with a three-foot-long scarf or towel wrapped around the ball of your right foot, knees bent, left foot on the floor. Hold the scarf in both hands and extend your right leg, keeping your foot flexed. Slowly walk your hands up the scarf/towel as you lift your head and shoulders off the floor. Hold for a count of two. Then lower yourself back to the starting position, walking your hands back down the scarf/towel. Do eight to 10 repetitions on each side and don't tuck your chin or tilt your head back — keep your head straight.

Follow Asafa on Twitter @officialasafa, visit his website at iamasafa.com or catch him at facebook.com/asafapowell. E-mail him at info@iamasafa.com.

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